Watchdog Group Calls for Investigation in Wake of Manhunt 2 Re-rate

August 24, 2007 -
While Rockstar fans are high-fiving over news that Manhunt 2 will now see the light of day as an M-rated horror game, the Campaign For a Commercial-Free Childhood is not impressed. 

The group has called for a federal government investigation into how Manhunt 2 came to be an M-rated game.

GamePolitics readers may recall the CCFC, which first impacted the video game scene last Fall. The group led a protest which resulted in the banning of M-rated game ads from public transit vehicles in Massachusetts.

On June 19th of this year the CCFC issued a demand that Manhunt 2 be rated AO. One of the group's primary concerns was the gesture control system of Nintendo's Wii, which the CCFC worried would make Manhunt 2's violence worse.

The group had incredibly bad timing however. Just hours before its campaign launched came word that Manhunt 2 had been banned in the U.K. And later the same day, the ESRB dropped its own bombshell, revealing that it had already rated Manhunt 2 for Adults Only.

Following today's announcement that Manhunt 2 will launch on Halloween with an M rating, the CCFC has gotten back into the fray. The group issued a press release which reads, in part:
On a phone call with CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn, ESRB President Patricia Vance refused to comment on what changes Rockstar made or whether any of the content described [in an IGN preview] was still in the game.

The press release includes a statement from Dr. Linn:
The [CCFC] is extremely concerned that the ESRB has downgraded its rating for Manhunt 2... Despite industry claims to the contrary, M-rated games continue to be marketed and sold to children under seventeen.  The ESRB’s reversal of its earlier decision dramatically increases the likelihood that Manhunt 2 – the most violent game to date produced for the interactive Nintendo Wii platform – will be marketed and sold to children.

Just three months ago, the ESRB felt that Manhunt 2 was so violent that it took the extraordinary step of giving a game an AO rating for violent content for only the second time in its history.  We urge the ESRB to make public their rationale for changing Manhunt 2’s rating, including detailing any content that was removed from the game.

We call upon Rockstar Games to allow the content of Manhunt 2 to be reviewed by an independent review board with no ties to the video game industry.

We ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the process by which Manhunt 2’s rating was downgraded from AO to M.

Comments

And how would you know? You don't have sufficent proof.

Maybe they did, maybe they didn't, but like everything, nothing is substantial without proof.

If you can give us sufficient, fool proof evidence that they kept Manhunt 2's content intact and changed the rating only as opposed to altering the game's content to meet the "M" rating, then we'll believe you.

Until then, this is about as believable as the sky falling.

PS, I never got interested in a GTA game ever. I'm more of a Super Robot Taisen kind of guy.

Btw, the above I wrote message was addressed to Thompson.

Not that he'll ever read it. He never reads the user comments. He only addresses to Dennis, So I might as well say this for laughs:

[GP: snip.... leave families out of it, plz]

Oh what fun.

@Jack Thompson, Attorney

Predictable, this happens, and now you think you can now have the ESRB replaced with the totalitarian system you want.

Also, I've played GTA since, GTA2 I believe and can understand and comprehend the works of Shakespeare better than most my age, and I've been playing the series since before I touched Romeo and Juliet, a tale full of sex, violence, murder, and even suicide. Want that banned now too?

Okay, I'm sorry about that comment, but JT never reads or replies to the commentors except on very RARE occasions. So I might as well just have some fun.

Besides, and eye for an eye is the only way to communicate wit that guy.

Errrr Jack, if he 'knew precisely what he's doing' why didn't he know about the re-rate.

Not very good keeping his eye on the ball there, but then he probably has so many peoples lives to stick his nose into.

@ DarrelBT, you're absolutely right. I watched a debate between Jack Thompson and Paul Levinson. He kept interrupting him like an immature baby.

GP, how about going one better and showing the FTC's studies for each year along with their failure rates, showing the clear IMPROVMENT over each year. Something that John Bruce, in his attempts to lie, deceive, and defraud the general Public as well as the uninform segements of the government could never bring himself to do.

Too bad that as an incompetent attorney, he hasn't learned that attempts to deprive individuals of Rights, in this case Parental Rights, by lying and deceiving to dictate his own personal, religious, and/or political beliefs upon others is just as much fraud as if he attempted to claim he were collecting money to create a PSA to educate Parents then turn around and give the money to his church.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software

Well JT, they edited some of the content out to get it down to a M.

It happens in the movie industry all the time - a snip here, a redub there, volia, what was once an R is now a PG13... So why should this be treated any different?

I meant Jack interrupting Paul and not vice-versa, by the way.

@TheGanner

It happened on G4 as well, hell,he kept interrupting the moderator as he was trying to wrap it up. and he kept trying to butt in whenever Adam was speaking.

Jack isn't back--Jack's on the ropes. His disciplinary hearing is inching ever closer, and his baseless federal suits to stop said hearing from happening are careening towards dismissal. You've got a couple of tricks up your sleeve for the ESRB? How about those tricks you had up your sleeve this past Thursday morning? Didn't seem to do you any good, did they?

Hooah? More like Hooey--as in, Jack's blustering about taking down Rockstar, Take-Two and the ESRB is all a bunch of--wait for it--HOOEY!

@Kurisu7885

That comes as no surpise to me. He sounded so childish. Listen to some of these:

"Can I talk now?

"Okay he's (Paul Levinson) done now. Can I talk?"

"I think you misspoke."

When, in fact, Paul meant exactly what he said. And was right.

Mark, and isn't it funny that an individual, such as John Bruce, who CLAIMS to be a member of a "good" religion must use "tricks" (lying and deceiving being key components to "trickery") rather than Truth and Honor to face his "opponents"?

Anyway, John Bruce has been rather silent on how his filings went. And details are limited for us lesser beings. Anything you can pass on with your connections would be much appreciated. (In other words, access to Public documents that most of us don't know about beyond the Docket on floridasupremecourt.org)

Thanks for continuing to prove the negative stereotypes about lawyers to be false.

Nightwng200
NW2K Software

Nightwing, he only brags about his victories.

And should we blame him? No one likes to talk about their defeats.

@DarrelBT:

Yes, but there's a difference between not liking to talk about one's failures and flat-out denying that they ever took place. Honorable people can admit their mistakes and discuss them like adults. Jack, on the other hand, embodies petulance and immaturity.

@everyone:

Some of you should copy your posts and send to the CCFC's comments section, if you haven't already. Although, I remember sending a couple of blistering letters to the PTC a while back. Shockingly, I'm still waiting for a response...

"What happens, kiddies, is that the ESRB, which is owned, operated, and funded by the industry “arranges” a re-rating of the game through the backdoor, and that’s what happened here."

They took the game, toned down the most contentious parts of it so that it would fit the M for Mature guidelines and resubmitted. Clear and simple, not via the "backdoor".

It has not been re-rated. The game was changed and sent in for a brand new rating. This new rating is based on a different product to the one that received an AO rating. If it was a re-rating, then the ESRB would have taken the original game and changed their mind on what to rate it. This is not the case.

"Whether there is a federal investigation or not, this truly is a dumb move by the ESRB. The ESRB could, until this, plausibly argue that its giving an AO rating to Manhunt 2 shows it could be trusted by parents. Not now."

They ESRB has not changed it's position on the original Manhunt 2 that was submitted. If they game was left unchanged then if it was resubmitted it would again receive an AO rating. But, as I have explained, the version of Manhunt 2 that received an M rating and will subsequently be released is not the same. It has been changed to tone down much of the violent content, resulting in a lesser rating. Just because the game is still called Manhunt 2 does not mean the content is the same.

They only talk about the Wii version... they "worried" about how you can kill in the game, because you have to move your body just like you kill someone in the real life, but im sure in the game not ALL the kills you have to swin the wimote to kill someone.

This game its Rated M, only for +17 people, of course they dont understand that, its sad.

None of these people seem to be able to grasp the simple concept that the game was changed to tone down the violence.

"The [CCFC] is extremely concerned that the ESRB has downgraded its rating for Manhunt 2"

*sigh* Here we go again. The ESRB has not downgraded it's rating for Manhunt 2. A new, toned down version of the game was submitting and received a brand NEW rating based on it's content, which was obviously less violent.

"Just three months ago, the ESRB felt that Manhunt 2 was so violent that it took the extraordinary step of giving a game an AO rating for violent content for only the second time in its history."

Untrue about only being the second time a game has been rated AO, but true in that the ESRB felt it merited an AO rating.

"We urge the ESRB to make public their rationale for changing Manhunt 2’s rating, including detailing any content that was removed from the game."

*bangs head on desk* They have not changed Manhunt 2's rating!!!! A new version has been made with a lot of the violence removed and that has gotten a bard new rating!

"We call upon Rockstar Games to allow the content of Manhunt 2 to be reviewed by an independent review board with no ties to the video game industry."

This sounds like JT's tactic of saying "Let me look at Bully and I will decide whether or not anyone shall play it". If it wasn't a case of Manhunt protecting their IP and the game was to be reviewed, I would also ask that the review board have no ties to the CCFC, NIMF, etc. if it were to be truly independent.


"We ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the process by which Manhunt 2’s rating was downgraded from AO to M."

*screams in frustration* I've just told you numerous times!!! The rating was not downgraded! The new version of the game is not as violent and received a lower rating!

@Axmand

Not to mention the wiimote cannot mimic weight, resistance, bounce back or any of the properties a real weapon would have.

Yesterday I was just messing around when I made partial cuss words for my expression of the watchdog group. I believe in having decent conversations over these issues to resolve them. I have seen a few people on this site use full cuss words which is evidently allowed to a certain degree.

We all should be glad that this game is coming out since the rating process is over. At least this game was not cancelled like Thrill Kill. I believe to this day that Thrill Kill should be released since there is already games like Grand Theft Auto available. In celebration over this issue they should have a special edition of Manhunt 2 with Thrill Kill. Now that is what I would call a special edition.

@shoehorn

while perhaps not true about the only game being rated AO, it is true that it's the only game to be rated AO for violence alone(at least that was brought to public knowledge)

Worse yet is that, on occassion, when John Bruce fails, he blames others rather than his own actions.

Of course, this also explains his "Blame the Game" attitude that he takes on behalf of others. Whether it's Devin Moore, Eric and Dylan, Cho, Gil, even Cody Posey or Robida, it's the Game's fault, or the Music's fault, or Tv's fault.

Whose fault is it that he had alleged heart trouble? The Industry. Whose fault was it that he acted out in court or court papers? The Industry. Whose fault is it that he is abusive verbally (even in writing)? Gamers or even his God's fault (as it's what his God wants him to do as a Warrior for God). Whose fault was it that he got kicked off the Alabama case? Judge Moore's. Whose fault was it that his appearance at PAX was cancelled? Penny Arcade's.

It's never John Bruce's fault. It's always someone else's.

Way to be a mature, responsible, adult there John Bruce.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software

"Hey, dude. You want a “full-blown” accounting that Mature games are marketed and sold to kids?"


Yes we do. We, unlike you, desire a factual basis for our arguments. And we are not going to take the "findings" of the FTC at face value. The article which Dennis posted gave a general overview of their findings rather than any hard specifics. Ergo we need examples of games being marketed to kids rather than just "our findings say they are". I don't give a toss about their findings, show me the proof.

Also I want evidence that playing Grand Theft Auto removes the frontal lobe of the brain.

Also Jack, give me evidence that proves that Manhunt 2 was not changed and this is "through the backdoor". Otherwise this is just more of your paranoid delusions.

I'll be playing some Half-Life 2 while you are gathering up all those facts for me. Thanks, bye.

@JT


if anything is through the 'backdoor' jack, its your opinion.


Games, as well as films are constantly being resubmitted with edited content to get the ratings they require, its ridiculous that youd even consider this to be something so neferious.


You know the fact that jack comes here without responding or perhaps even reading the comments tat so clearly shoot him down make me think he's some kind of intellectual masochist, he just cant get enough of being made an idiot via his own words.

When the ESRB rates, they do not come back with ambiguous comments. Comments are specific. They are things that can be acted upon by the developer and if reworked properly, the game should be able to achieve the desired rating.

One of the games I worked on essentially "failed" on it's first pass through. We were aiming for a "T" for Teen rating (it was an RTS) and the reviewers thought that the amount of blood generated by dead soldiers ... especially when a lot of soldiers died all at once in the same place was over the top. We dialed back on the blood smears and passed muster the next time through. We weren't artistically compromised and game play remained the same.

I'm going to say this once more as people just don't seem to get it (I could've sworn retailers were now posting signs of what game ratings meant?): MATURE rated games are for MATURE persons. That means 17 and up. Under the prior CA game law, you could be punished severely (fined heavily, lost job for offending employee) for selling a M rated game to a person under the age of 17. Who the hell in their right mind would - all things considered - say their marketing to kids? That's like saying the Girls Gone Wild ads on TV late at night are being marketed to kids... What is it with these people that they like to use children to get laws passed or the government involved? The Federal Trade Commision does not need to even act here. Most of us are already pissed we can't get an A/O rated game because they are telling us that us adults can't play games meant for us to play (That's why they're called Mature audiences only) and we'll have to settle for some dumbed-down game instead. Can we atleast have our M rated game and be in peace?

Let look at that lovely thing called context, yes the FTC report spanked ALL media, movies, music, and video games, for their advising practices but let look at what John Bruce leaves out.

On advertising: You say our frontal lobes are fried and that we should read the FTC study well I have lets test you reading comprehension, from the study that can found here: http://www.ftc.gov/reports/violence/070412MarketingViolentEChildren.pdf complete with page numbers(All emphasize mine):

Let us start with this lovely quite from the executive summery:
“As with the Commission’s review of the other industries, internal marketing documents and ad placements for selected M-rated games showed that the video game companies contacted for this Report **DID NOT specifically target advertising for those games to children under 17.**” In addition, advertising on television programs popular with teens appears to be diminishing."
-The center of your argument is that the exposure to ads for violent video games is a deliberate and intentional marketing strategy (as opposed to ads having unintentional overlap between target and inappropriate demographics) and yet the first thing they talk about under the heading “games” in the executive summery is how that there is no evidenced of deliberate targeting.

Let continue with the application of context:.
“The ESRB continues to set a high standard for the clear and prominent disclosure of rating information in television, print, and the Internet. In addition, placements of advertising on television programs popular with teens appear to be diminishing.” (Page 24)
-I can see why you so want us to read the report Mister Thompson: high standards clear and prominent these words clearly make the ESRB sound shady and untrustworthy don’t they? (sarcasm)

“Although the video game industry has adopted limits on Internet advertising, the relevant standard – ads cannot appear on a site where more than 45% of visitors are under 17 – is so permissive that advertisements for M-rated games can reach large numbers of young teens and children. Moreover, the Commission’s review found many examples of non-compliance with even that limited restriction. **The movie and music industries have adopted NO standards restricting Internet advertising for R-rated movies and explicit-content labeled music.**” (Page 31)
-While the industry is not doing a great job here what JT fails to mention is that the FTC report leaned far harder music and movies for not having any regulations at all on advertising and what he really doesn’t want to tell you is that the ESRB, be it by default, actually had the best standards in this regard.

“As the Commission’s latest mystery shops show, national video game sellers *significantly improved* their record of enforcement compared to their performance at the time of the Commission’s last report. They cut the rate at which underage shoppers could buy M-rated games nearly in half, to under 40%. One retailer – Wal-Mart – stood out from the others, permitting fewer than two out of ten shoppers to buy an M-rated game.
On the other hand, music and movie DVD retailers have made little progress in adopting and enforcing point-of-sale age restrictions.” (Page 32)
-Parents can’t trust a system that has been shown to be significantly improving?

“ Given important *First Amendment* considerations, the Commission supports *private* sector initiatives by industry and individual companies to implement these suggestions.” (Page 33)
How does this support your legislative efforts John Bruce?

On Accuracy: “The parent and child surveys paint a *mostly positive* picture of the ESRB system. The system is a useful and important tool that parents increasingly use to help them make informed decisions about games for their children” (Page 30)
“These data DO NOT suggest that ESRB ratings overall, or for a particular rating category, are generally invalid or “inaccurate.” Uniform agreement among parents about game ratings is unrealistic, given that the rating exercise involves some degree of subjectivity. Moreover, the impact of occasional disagreement with ESRB ratings may be buffered by the relatively high level of participation and monitoring parents have reported exercising when it comes to their children’s game play.” (Page 31)

On awareness and use:
“Overall, the results of the parent and child surveys reflect* positively* on the ESRB system. Awareness levels of the ESRB system have risen significantly since the 2000 survey.” (Page 26)
-So is the report all sunshine and roses for the industry? No. Is it proof that the industry is doing a horrible job, is inaccurate, is an industry tool, and whatever else John Bruce and his elk want to believe it is? No. What is a balanced report noting may good improvement, providing constructive criticism and overall in support of self-regulation.
Context it is beautiful thing.
PS: Could we all please at least skim the report some people here are and have clearly draw conclusions about it without having taken a look at it.

On another note, I already had my Tax dollars wasted on a bullshit Immigrations & Customs sting on mod chips. I'd rated NOT have a single penny wasted on this. Take the request (if formally mailed in) and send it straight to the rubbish bin.

Quoting las, Attorney:
If the retailers do their bit, and apart from one store in Tallahassee or whatever these censors insist is still selling violent games to minors, then the fault is entirely on the parents who buy the violent games for minors.

You don’t buy your kids violent games? Fine. Don’t encroach on other people’s rights to decide what media their kids can view. And certainly do not go after the industry that has done all it can, you fat, useless, old hags.

Whether you are truthfully an attorney or not, you are a genius! Finally, someone who pumps out what I've been saying since CA's game bill went into effect in 2005. We don't need laws to do what parents should be doing themselves.

Edit: the frist quote is found on page iii. The last quote is on page 27 not 26. I really need an edit function.

Ok now I KNOW I'm on the right track by saying TT & R* pulled a fast one because none other than he who shall not be named is going after the ESRB instead of them...

-mw

I looked at the list again. Thrill Kill and The Punisher both got AO ratings. I know Thrill Kill got an AO for violence, and I doubt The Punisher got an AO for sexual content.

Sorry for the double post, but I agree that still isn't much.

Okay, no way that's jack, I mean, when have you ever heard him talk like that?

@ Jack Thompson, Soon-to-be-ex-Attorney and Poster Child For Tort Reform

Using all statistics found, the sale of a M-rated game or any game, for that matter, to a minor by themselves is quite rare, as sales to minors by themselves only account for 1.26% of all video game sales, so M-rated game sales to minors as documented by the FTC is much lower than 1.26%.

And again, I turn 28 in November, so if that's being a "kiddie" to you, then your career is in more trouble than anyone thought.

Practice what you preach, childish jabroni: Grow up and get a life.

@Dietdan

Excellent post.


@Jack Thompson

As Dietdan's post kind of trumps your claims do you have any counter-counter points? Or are you going to do what you always do and slither out of this thread without commenting further so you can just post the same tripe in a future thread and have us repeat the process of proving your wrong time and time again.

Forget debating Halpin, if you can't beat a bunch of internet geeks, well its time to pack it in.

@ Erik

We've been doing that for the last couple of years now(him posting the same bullshit over and over again, us proving him wrong over and over again, rinse, repeat).

Hal Halpin(hell, anyone) debating Jack Thompson is essentially Halpin engaging in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

Jacky Boy's major problem is pride(refusing to accept defeat and refusing to admit he's in the wrong).

Jack, the only GTA game I've played and enjoyed is Vice City, and I don't even play that often. I think all the other games in the series are a waste of time. In fact, I'm playing Gran Turismo 4 at the moment. Now there's a great all-ages game.

Oh, wait-- I bet that game encourages youngsters to buy their own car and race it without their parent's permission! DAMN YOU SONY!!! PEARL HARBOUR 2 PEARL HARBOUR 2 PEARL HARBOUR 2!!!11UIOHEF8B

But, anyway, on topic. Why is a watchdog group complaining that the game has been censored and re-rated, let alone asking for an investigation as to why it was re-rated? Flawless logic, indeed.

It's times like this I'm glad I don't live in the US.

Double post, lol.

Last time I checked, Manhunt 2 (or any M-rated game, for that matter) was in no way targeted towards children, as DietDan mentioned. I do not have the stomach to go into a paragraph-long rant; I'll let others do that.

My friend once said in a conversation, "Conservatives are just fascists without charisma." After reading this, I find it hard to disagree.

@tammej

Well put my friend, that made my day.

@JT

A few problems with your theory.

1. If the ESRB was the puppet of the industry wouldn't it just be easier to give Manhunt 2 an M rating and never an Ao rating?

2. If the Ao scandal was in fact planned by the industry then why did the industry turn around and criticise the ESRB over this, if they were in on it?

3. Why haven't the ESRB been toting this event as proof that the system works?

Anyway you say you are going to be attacking the ESRB? Great, if you can destroy the Ao rating I will personally send you some flowers . . . oh that's right you don't like flowers, well how about a fruit basket.

wow their leader went to harvard (wait didnt our president go to harvard)?

There's only one thing that can be said about this story.....and george carlin already said it the best way it can be said...

F*** the children

Dennis, why haven't you re-banned Thompson ?

@hilary
Really where might I find the routine where he said that? George Carlin is one of the stand-up gods.

@father time

its from his "you are all diseased" stand up......

should be easy to find on amazon...he goes into a little more but yea you will like it.....

"kids dont smoke because a camel in sunglasses tells them to they smoke for the same reasons adults do because it releaves anxiety and depression"

@ all

I will not leave religion alone because it is the primary warrant and justification for supressing the artistic freedom of games. Some people in this world are still superstitious enough to not wake up to the fact that their belief systems amount to little more than bronze-age superstition that has been re-defined around contemporary norms at least a hundred times.

Democracy should be the norm in a free society, but superstitious biblical morons seek to shove their BS values down the throats of all people. It is time we expose their beliefs for what they truely are: the worship of a genocidal, ficticious, terrible, and horrible tyrant (who has killed more people than the combined sum of deaths depicted in video games). They hate freedom, despise different value systems, and should be portayed as the superstitious morons they are.

I'd like to see one of the following two things happen:

1. Superstitious, bible-thumping, conservative morons should crawl back under their rocks, shut up, and leave the freedom of media alone. If they wish to preach hate to their children, we'll give them that right. As long as they keep their hands off media.

2. Ethical secular people start an organized campaign that seeks to protect children from the hateful dogma that is Christianity. We should begin an effort to censor the Bible, protect children from indoctrination, and expose garbage Christian values as the superstitious nonsense they are. If they seek to hunt our freedoms, we should hunt theirs with equal effort.

@Jack Thompson

http://members.aol.com/KinCryos/FTC.png
You mean these FTC findings which clearly show that violent videogames sold to those under 17 took a nosedive while violent movies and music continue to stay strong? You're like the lazy corrupt cop who gives the speeding ticket to the slowest vehicle. Sure, you say you're protecting the chickens from the foxes, but the truth is that a wolf is a poor choice for said guard.

"The man leading the effort at this Harvard-based organization is Josh Golin. Great guy, and he knows precisely what he is doing, as does the entire organization."

Oh well thats a relief. That means if they manage to get the investigation to happen and then they find that no wrong doing has occured, you and them will be forced to admit you were wrong and shut up right?

Right?

..yeah fat chance.


"As I told Josh yesterday (he didn’t know about the re-rating), “This will be the dumbest thing Take-Two ever did, because it should lead to a federal investigation of the ESRB, and it should.”"

Editing down the game to get a acceptable rating is a dumb thing? wow. I guess JT actualy dosnt condon the editing of a game to fit more in with what society finds acceptable. You rebel you.



"Oh, and I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve for the ESRB on this. Stay tuned. Is this a great country or what? Hooah!!!"

If its anything like your pitiful attempt on Bioshock then im not going to bother staying tuned. That event bored me greatly.



"Jack Is Back Thompson "

I think its a little premature to be saying your back when you still got disbarrment looming over your head, isnt it?

Okay Pandralisk, then I shall dub you the Jack Thompson of religion. As your close minded attacks echo his oh so greatly.
 
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